Month: July 2014


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

Here is a duo that had a lot of success writing hit songs for Sweet, Suzi Quatro, Smokie and Mud to name the most important.
They had a fantastic run of hit singles from 1973 until 1978. Then their well run dry. This interview is done at a time when I guess they were pretty high on themselves. I am a little flabbergasted by how immature they seem and I wonder if it is their own fault or the journalist making them seem that way. Make up your own mind.

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Inside the hit factory

Sweet, Mud, Suzi Quatro – just three bands who owe their success to the team of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. They talk to MM`s Jeff Ward.

Chapman: “Really, I wake up some mornings and think `I just don`t want to write a hit today.`”
Chinn: “I make him!”
Up on the sixth floor of an exclusive apartment block in London`s Mayfair – a building where you can`t get in until a uniformed caretaker comes and unlocks the plate-glass doors – resides the hit factory.
Glide up in the small lift and you should find a door with a nameplate bearing the legend “Hits Ltd.” But you don`t. There`s just an ordinary door, which is somehow a let-down.
It`s the home of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, arguably Britain`s top pop songwriting team of the moment, whose songs for Sweet, Mud and Suzi Quatro have been blitzing the charts for some time. Guitars, microphones, amps, tape recorders, a film projector and screen stand among the trendy items of furniture, new and out of “Habitat” or “Biba`s.” The production line starts here…

Morever, Chinn and Chapman believe they have just created a “first.” It seems that numbers one and two in the British charts have never before been achieved by the same songwriters at the same time. Looking at Chinn and Chapman`s successes, particularly over the last year, it seems a natural culmination.
Consider this: in the past twelve months, January to January, they`ve had twelve major hit records with the three groups for whom they write and produce.
That`s one a month. Over the past three years, all together they`ve had three number ones, four number two`s, one number three, three number fours, and one single each at five, nine and ten.
And of course, several other singles in the lower half of the top twenty.

Going by the music trade points system – 50 points scored for a number one record sliding to one point for a number 50 record – the dynamic duo have already notched up 417 points in 1974. “We`re the biggest little publishing company in the world,” laughs Mike.
Australian-born and a singer before he started writing songs seriously, that`s Mike. And Nicky, a former public school boy of wealthy parentage; they`re a personable pair.
Working and living in their flat, where their gold discs adorn the walls alongside contemporary prints and sheet music of their songs in frames, they look on themselves as perfectionists, craftsmen. Yet they play only rudimentary guitar and piano.

They are capable of working like Stakhanovites to get a song completed right. No half measures will do. Indeed, it is rigorous, demanding self-appraisal that has helped to put them where they are today – coupled with their vision of “teenage revolution.”
Of similar and compatible minds, they feel powerful enough to say they can dictate teenage fashion though up to now to the mass of kids they`ve been faceless. Oh, and they ain`t as mean an` moody as they`d have their publicity shots suggest.
There often seems to be one team of songwriters at the top in any given period who come to be labelled as a “conveyor belt” of hits, or such like.

Says Nicky: “We`re regarded by a lot of people as the Sausage Factory, a hit a month…” Before he`s got underway Mike, who`s obviously been thinking up his own flip jingles, chips in: “You can`t go wrong with a Chinn and a Chapman song! There ain`t no crap, there ain`t no chaff in Chinn and Chap!”
Nicky continues: “We do have a hit a month and the reason we have a hit a month is that we work bloody hard, we think about our songs a great deal. It doesn`t take a lot of intelligence to make a few sausages and knock `em out on a conveyor belt but it takes a lot of intelligence and a lot of thought, creativity and everything else to write songs.
“When Cat Stevens puts out an album with twelve tracks on it no one says he`s churned out twelve tracks, but he`s done as much churning out as we have.”

“Funny, that`s exactly what I was going to say,” said Mike, slumped right down in an armchair, leaning against the body of an electric guitar.
“As far as I`m concerned there`s nobody better in the world than we are. We are the best, that`s obvious to anybody. That`s not being conceited; that`s an answer to saying that we are a hit factory. Of course we`re a hit factory, we can`t help it.
“It`s our business, we`re the best at it, we`re gonna get better still. One of these days we`ll write fifty hits in one year and everybody`ll fall over backwards and give up, and say well let`s leave it to them.
“We may fall on our faces one day but really it doesn`t bother us. If we do we`ll get out of the business and do something else.
“But when you`re knocking out that many hits you`ve gotta be termed as something and I suppose hit factory is as good as anything.

“But the kids give us credit because they buy the records. They`re buying them because they like them. You put a bad record out by the Sweet and they won`t buy it, or with Suzi Quatro. We`ve proved it; with Suzi we put out `Daytona Demon,` it got to number 14.
“But her image and her song could only get her to number 14 so obviously the song wasn`t good enough. Kids are not stupid you know, they`re very clever and they only want the best.”

Sweet, however, are prone to believe – and Mike and Nicky are aware of the group`s feeling – that they could put out any record and it would be a success on the name of Sweet alone.
Of course, many groups reckon the same when they get to a certain point in their careers.
But Mike and Nicky are adamant; Mike says it`s an “unfortunate” attitude to have and that he feels sorry for Sweet if they really think like that.

Nicky says: “I`ve got an answer which I think is valid. They`re right and they`re wrong. At this moment in time they could release anything and they could have a hit purely on advance orders.
“They knock out 150,000 in the first week and they`ll go straight into the top ten. Then the kids start to hear the record and, assuming for the sake of this argument that it`s not that good, they`re not going to like it.
“And there`s a lot of difference between 150,000 and half a million which is what we generally sell with Sweet in this country. Not nearly so many kids are going to go out and buy the single in the second, third and fourth weeks.
“I will admit the Sweet could release anything and have a hit – what happens with the follow-up? Deadsville!

“No, that is a logical argument. The first was a smash because it was the Sweet, a lot of kids would have gone out and bought it without even hearing it…”
Suddenly, a cool female voice drops out of thin air.
“Twelve forty-nine” it says. Mike had switched on his speaking clock: “just checking my watch” he says apologetically. “Well, just another rich man`s toy,” he continues.
“I know they have this attitude and if it`s their attitude that they can release anything then they`ll never be hit songwriters. If we were to say to the Sweet, look, you fellers can have a hit with anything, we`ll release anything, they`d be the first ones to come to us and say `how dare you do that, it`s not good enough.`

“This is why they`d never be hit songwriters. They`re great at what they`re doing but as soon as they start talking about that sort of thing they`re out of their depth, they do not know.
“But they`ve got us around so fortunately they`ll never be allowed to do it.”
Nicky: “It`s a dangerous attitude, a pop business death. Sweet talk a lot but they don`t do quite as much as they talk. They`d love to write their own singles, I know they would.
“But if you actually asked them `OK fellers, will you write the next single `cause we ain`t got the time?` there`d be flat bloody panic. I`m serious.`

Mike said Sweet became hypocritical when they talked out of their depth. He and Nicky didn`t tell them what to do on stage, that was their business.
But every group, not just Sweet, had the attitude that once they`d made it they`d always be at the top. “We know better,” assured Mike, “We`re aware of the market, we know of the kids far better than the Sweet do.
“They may think that by being on the road they`re closer to the kids – honestly, we`re two steps ahead of the kids out there all the time, that`s why we have such big records.
“We are the people who give the kids what they want.” Nicky: “This `anything` attitude is bloody unprofessional.
“Top artists have tried to have a hit with anything. Gilbert O`Sullivan tried it with `Ooh Baby` – bloody awful – he came to his senses and wrote the next one which was `Why,` a big hit for him. He tried to have a hit with anything and he flopped.

“If the artist is enormous enough he can have one hit, then the kids will find out they`ve been conned and the follow-up will be death.”
Half a million records, said Mike, were not sold of every single to half a million kids who loved Sweet, Suzi, Mud, Slade or Gary Glitter. There were not that number of ardent fans. To sell half a million every time the imagination of an extra 400,000 kids had to be captured: “To do that is terribly difficult. Lewis Carroll did with `Alice in Wonderland,` and I defy anybody to capture a kid`s imagination like he did with that book.
“It`s not easy, kids are very clever and they need things that get their senses going. We are capable of giving them those things because we`ve learned how.”

Compare “Blockbuster” with “Hellraiser”; the former made number one and sold nearly 800,000 – but no way were there that number of Sweet fans. “Hellraiser” sold only 350,000, was a number two and the smallest record they`d had with Sweet for a long time. But what happened to the other 450,000?
The failure to catch the imagination, the dreams, of kids was the reason that so many other pop records failed.
“This is why we sweat so hard on songs sometimes and really work,” Nicky went on.
“When you think of the whole concept of a pop record, the melody, the lyrics, the production, the performance, we`ll sit for a whole day on one bloody line because we say it won`t do, it`s not good enough.

“I bet you really and truly if we bunged it in we`d get away with it, but we won`t, because we`re perfectionists. We don`t say anything will do.”
Said Mike: “Or the melodic structure might be a little bit wrong; we think it`s good but it needs a note in there that`s going to click in the kids` minds, something they`re gonna like quicker than the note that`s there at the moment.
“We`ve sweated for weeks on one note just to change a melody. And if you listen to the original concepts of the songs and the finished products you see how much our ideas have formulated and changed during the writing and how much extra thought we`ve put into it.”

Hit factory - Chinnichap!

Hit factory – Chinnichap!

However, it took them just a day to write “Teenage Rampage” because they were under pressure. It was unusually quick for them. Sweet had to be in the studios imminently and both Mike and Nicky were due to go abroad on business. Afterwards, Mike said, he slept for two days being so mentally exhausted. “As I say, it`s all down to the kids` imaginations,” Mike continues.
“Kids haven`t changed that much. Instead of reading Lewis Carroll now they listen to Sweet or Slade. But they still have imagination; remember when you were a kid, what did you want to be or want to do? People have to do something special to make an impression.”
So then, how do Mike and Nicky gauge what kids, teenagers, are thinking, feeling, what they want?

Mike: “I don`t think we do it consciously, at the moment anyway, I don`t know how long it`ll last. It`s weird really, you can`t put it into words. We are ahead of the kids at the moment, we won`t always be like it, we`ve gotta make the most of it.
“We`re on a streak. We know what the kids want and will want to hear. We listen to other people`s stuff an awful lot so we know we`ve got to be that much further advanced. We have to change the style of our acts progressively so they`ll continue to appeal to the kids.”
And by saying that they`re ahead of the kids, Chinn and Chapman imply that they know where they (the kids) are now. Where are they?
“`Teenage Rampage` really sums it all up. From the age of two they`re buying records. Believe it or not, two-year-olds are thinking like ten-year-olds now.

“Kids are learning a lot quicker and the whole feeling in the country at the moment is aggression/tension and it`s having an effect on the kids. By making aggressive records you can get the feelings out of kids, they can express themselves by dancing, they all dance now.”
Nicky: “It`s aggression but fortunately it doesn`t seem to be too violent an aggression. It`s not like the days of the teddy boys with flick knives.
“It`s a different aggression. I think kids want to get their tensions out by going to concerts and screaming, going to ballrooms and discotheques and dancing non-stop for three hours, by going home and imagining tomorrow night`s date is with Brian Connolly! The teddy boy era was violent in a different way; now it`s hysterical aggression, but not violent.
“The football scene is far more violent than the pop scene. They`re always beating each other up at football grounds, they`re not in ballrooms.”

It distressed Mike to hear people knocking kids getting rid of their emotions because kids from the age of two to 22 didn`t have much of an opportunity to do so in this country.
“What do you do – commit suicide, beat somebody up, drive a car fast? There are a few ways of doing it, all of which are bad. But there`s another way: by buying loud aggressive records, or even soft aggressive records, and listening and dancing to them.
“Certain people who knock it really are led astray I think because if the kids aren`t doing that they`re gonna be doing something a lot worse.
“Mary Whitehouse for instance is constantly knocking hit records and pop records for being violent and rude. She`s entitled to her opinion but personally I think she`s wrong.
“She`s trying to stop kids having the one form of entertainment that gives them the opportunity to unleash.

“Mike Leander and Gary, and Slade and Chas Chandler, not just us, know what the kids are all about at the moment, know what they need to get rid of their feelings and they put it all into records. And with all these crises happening in this country they`re buying more and more records.”
Nicky: “God alone knows the kids need what people like us are giving them because if they`re old enough to think and read the bloody papers and look at the country, God knows they need something to lift them up, if this is the country they`ve gotta grow up in.”
Mike had a thought that conjured up a marvellous picture: “It`s a pity the coal miners wouldn`t go and buy a few records and go dancing every night.
“Maybe then they wouldn`t be so dissatisfied. I wish they were all like that couple of miners in the charts, because they wouldn`t be trying to get more money all the time.”

Nicky joined in: “Maybe they should pipe music down the mines.”
Mike: “It could lead to their downfall, it could all fall in on them and they`d get buried! Good luck to `em!” Much hilarity. Things were getting frivolous. “They should put `Hellraiser` on and with that explosion at the beginning they`d think it was all over!”
Mike carried on: “It`s very unfortunate that grown up people are like this. I mean, we still let our feelings out. There`s a lot of people our age and Jesus, he`s 28 and I`m 26 or something, and we`re still bopping around every night, going down to Tramp`s (West End disco) and leaping about and making fools of ourselves.
“But my God it ain`t `alf good for you. You wake up the next morning feeling that much better for it because there`s no other way to get rid of your expression, feelings.
“The only other way is for me to get on the motorway in my car and drive at 150 mph.” Wasn`t their songwriting in any way a release though.

“Well, it is, but it`s not complete.” Nicky: “Because it`s a pressure in the first place to write.” Mike: “It gives us a lot of pleasure but it doesn`t give us full satisfaction, that comes after the records are made – and going to discotheques and jumping about, we`re mad keen about going to Tramp`s as a lot of people our age are.”
Nicky took a lot of his emotions out playing tennis: “I really whack that ball! I really do. Nervous energy.” Mike: “So many people have no outlet, the older people, so when they do they go on strike.
“That`s the way they get rid of their feelings. Most of them don`t want more money; somebody tells them they should have it and it`s one way to get rid of feelings. They can make themselves heard.

Mike: `Teenage Rampage` is exactly where the kids are. They are on a rampage and it is a revolutionary movement. It`s not politically revolutionary, it`s just a revolution of feelings. At last the kids can go and do what they`ve always wanted to do.
“Even in the Beatles days there weren`t half as many kids screaming as there are now.”
Wasn`t there a chicken and egg situation here though? Were the songs being written and the kids reacting, or were Mike and Nicky getting vibes from the kids and then writing?
The two know they are capitalising on a situation but at the same time they think they are part of what helped to start it all.
“Up until we came along in 1971 the music since 1967 was dead, there was nothing. It was all Engelbert Humperdinck, there was nothing for the kids. Bubblegum, what did that do? It had no feeling.
“Didn`t make you emote in any way. Then we, Slade, Gary, T. Rex, Bowie came along and all of us changed the whole pattern of the business. All the kids found out that we had something to offer them that they could laugh and express themselves with.
“Now we know it`s there and we`re leading them, we`re pulling them in, we`re getting more and more kids at it.”

Also there`s a new generation rising within the “ten year cycle” of pop fashions.
“Exactly,” agreed Nicky. “It`s strange that ten years after the Beatles really got going it`s all happening again. The difference is that opposed to there being one phenomena there seems to be about five or six.”
Mike rejoined: “1957 and 1967 were my favourite years for music and they were the last of each era. Really, 1957 started the great cavalcade of rock`n`rollers.
“Everybody was doing it. But from `53 to `57 it was the innovators, the people who made rock`n`roll music. From `63 to `67 it was the Beatles, flower power and people continued on.
“From `73 to `77 it`s gonna be excitement all the way – and `77 to `83 or `84 will be another dull period. God knows what`ll happen in `84 – Mr Thingummybob wrote all about it, I hope that doesn`t come true. 1984!”

But right now, in the present, there seemed to be a resurgence of the “teenage” syndrome.
There were currently “Teenage Rampage,” “Teenage Dream” by T. Rex, “Teenage Lament” from Alice Cooper, and latest, “Teenage Love Affair” by Rick Derringer. Ringo Starr, Clifford T. Ward, Cockney Rebel, Nazareth (with “Teenage Nervous Breakdown”), were other artists using similar imagery. What did Mike and Nicky, who had had the first “teenage” single out, think had set it rolling?
Their first reaction was that the others were copyists jumping on the Chinn-Chapman bandwagon. But Nicky added: “It implies immense recognition of the teenagers. I attribute it to the fact that there is a teenage movement.
“Teenagers are more to the forefront than they have been for many years and also they`ve got a lot more money than they`ve had for a long time. Maybe next there`ll be “Weenage Wampagne.`
“Some of them are a lot younger now. But the thing is they are making an impact, they`re doing things that are noticed and I think it is being recognised by writers and acts. But I think they`re jumping on the bandwagon a bit now.

“We didn`t know about Alice Cooper`s `Teenage Lament` and he didn`t know about our `Teenage Rampage` but the ones that have followed I`ve a feeling may have known about both.”
Mike expanded: “Each of the songs that we`ve mentioned concerns a teenage emotion. There`s a rampage, a lament, a dream, nervous breakdown and a love affair.
“So we`re dealing with teenage feelings and we the writers concerned are just pulling out different aspects and giving the kids the chance to recognise themselves in the songs, what they`re really all about.
“We`re just putting up a mirror where they can see themselves. Maybe we`re crediting the kids with something they haven`t been given credit for for a long time, like a love affair.
“They say `he can`t be in love at 15,` but maybe he can be. You can have a nervous breakdown when you`re a teenager – nobody thinks you can but you can – you can lament when you`re a teenager.”

And Nicky: “You can certainly rampage and you can certainly dream. Bolan`s saying `what ever happened to the teenage dream` but it`s very live and very real. Everyone`s saying what teenagers can do. You haven`t got to be 25 to do all that.”
“What a wonderful world it would be,” mused Mike, “If everybody acted like teenagers, if everybody had the attitude of teenagers. I don`t mean the minority, I mean the majority of them, not the ones that go around beating people up, the mugs and fools.
“I mean the ones who are expressing themselves in discotheques, the ones who are doing their bit at school, and going on to be a welder or a panel beater or whatever.
“If everybody could have all that over again…I mean, I still think like a teenager and so does Nick, you know, we live in a fantasy world, everybody in the pop business lives in one.” Nicky: “I love fantasy, it`s my whole life.”

Mike: “If everybody had the attitude of a lot of the teenagers then I think we`d all be a lot better off. Probably the country would go to rack and ruin financially but we`d be very happy wouldn`t we?”
“We`re unfortunately so involved in fighting the bloody government, going on strike,” Mike continued, `and the kids, what`re they doing? Dancing.
“And they`ve got the right idea, they`re the happiest people in the country. Without music they wouldn`t be, because they`d have no escape or outlet.
“So maybe we should all become teenagers again. I`ll write a letter to Ted Heath: `Dear Ted, I think you should be a teenager! “Well, even he plays the organ. Perhaps Chinn and Chapman should produce him.
“Oh yes you`d get a vast amount of sales among the Tory backbenchers. We could call it the Ted Heath Conspiracy.”

Mike added: “God knows what we`ll be thinking in a year`s time but I`m sure our outlook will be completely different. We keep changing all the time, things influence us.
“In a year`s time we won`t be the same people we are now, we`ll be making totally different records. Let`s hope we`ve got another 12 or 15 hits under our belts.
“What we need desperately now is another super group. We need a group to come along to us who are just so unbelievable and knock us out. That`s what we`re looking for and we`ll keep looking until we find them.
“And if they write, all the better, because our commitments writing-wise are pretty high. But if we could find the next Beatles, the next Elvis Presley, the next Bing Crosby…

Nicky: “Or the next Cole Porter. We get an awful lot of the wrong things, like someone phoned me up this morning and said he was in a group and could we go and see them and write for them? I asked what sort of group they were and he said they were like Mud.
“Well I said, on that basis, no matter how good you are, no disrespect, we cannot handle you. Cannot! We`d be fighting ourselves.
“If they`re like Mud that`s unfortunate. Maybe someone else will find them and make them stars. But at least then we`ll be fighting that someone, not ourselves.
“We`re looking, but it`s difficult to find that right thing. It`s not easy, it really isn`t. They only come along now and again.”

Deep Purple was still one of the leading rock bands at the time.

Deep Purple was still one of the leading rock bands at the time.

This number of Melody Maker also contains articles/interviews with these people: The Who, Maggie Bell, 10CC, YES, Gregg Allman, Blue Öyster Cult, Roger McGuinn, Jim Croce, Carpenters, Dr. Moog, David Ackles, Bert Kaempfert, John Ford, Zoot Sims, Peter Bellamy.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your  own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

I haven`t printed any articles about Jethro Tull before. Time to rectify that! Have a nice read.

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Jethro and the amoebic surge…

Passion Play, the critics and beyond… Nick Logan pursues Jethro to an Alpine impasse

There are few bands more intrinsically British than Jethro Tull.
Sure, we`ve heard all those stories of how they`ve spent the past five years jet-hopping around the world, working their asses off in Europe, America, Japan, Wembley and all stations to Betelgeuse, pausing only to change Y-fronts in the Old Country. But didn`t we know all the time that they were really running an Army and Navy surplus store in Kentish Town and rerouting postcards and phony progress reports from the Santa Monica Lyceum and the Tokyo Hardrock?

Not so mes amis, I`m here to tell you: that wacky nine legged eccentric known collectively as Jethro Tull is indeed the globe-trotting cosmopolitan that the group`s travel agent`s bank balance would have us believe.
Why, aren`t we here now in wealthy cosmopolitan Switzerland watching Ian Anderson, Monsieur J. Tull incarnate, hob-nobbing with the Mayoralty of elegant Montreux – if not in fluent Francais – at least as if to the manner born. A strange sight indeed. Blackpool Baroque cheek-to-cheeking with Chalet Chic. Well I`ll go to the foot of our stairs.
But wait. There must be more to this than meets the eye…

Montreux is where J. Tull set down their nine feet when they snuck out of the U.K. back in 1972, using this strategically placed mountain-fringed resort as a centre of European operations for six months of that year.
In fact, they formed such a strong attachment for the place that, when they played a gig in the Swiss capital of Zurich last year, the band declared the event a benefit concert with proceeds to go to “the youth of Montreux.”
Something else came out of those six months in Montreux however, for here was planned and conceived the musical tractatus (henceforth known as “A Passion Play”) that united the critics of the Western World with a solidarity not witnessed since the release of “Grand Funk 1”.

Anyway, here we are in Montreux, in the restaurant of the Eurohotel, with Lake Geneva and the snow-topped Alps providing the backdrop for the presentation to the Vice-Mayor of the concert cheque for 50,000 Swiss Francs (approximately 6 1/2 grand).
A noble gesture in a business more noted for its gestures than its nobility…And also a useful occasion for the putting straight of a few things that need straightening out, which explains why Chrysalis Records have invited the press of Europe to congregate here to watch.
Or, as Tull manager Terry Ellis put it when the presentation ceremony was complete and the assembly prepared for the real event – the press conference:
“We`ve asked you here to clear up the confusion that seems to have followed the group`s decision to retire from concerts at the end of last year, to clear up any misunderstandings that the group might have split up.”

Fair enough, you might say. So what`s been going on?
Plenty, says Ian Anderson, hair shorter and swept back from an almost Pharaoesque beard.
The clatter of coffee cups is stilled.
To be specific, they`ve been making two albums – recording in London. One a group album, the other the soundtrack for the upcoming J. Tull feature film “War Child”.
No gigs planned at the moment, he says non-committedly, but they are certainly not ruled out when work on the film permits.

And of the film: “We have, for at least two years, been looking for a movie situation that we could use to get into something more subtle than the group can achieve on stage.”
The script, says Anderson when pressed further, is based on a story of his, and features two main actors apart from himself and the group. They play the parts of God and the Devil in a story that concerns “the Heaven and Hell around us.”
Wasn`t Anderson originally cast in the role of God?
Not I, says he, handling the occasion with customary aplomb. That was a misprint.
“I think Jethro have possibly been the hardest-working live group over the last five years. Not just in America but all over the world.

“And we have to play large halls most of the time. When we had the opportunity to play England last year, we chose to do two shows at Wembley rather than play lots of smaller halls over the country. We did that so we could play the show we had been playing in America, using all the lights and a lot of equipment, and generally keeping the show up to the standard it was in America.
“Unfortunately that standard doesn`t seem to have been well-received.”
Uhmm. Does one detect Mr. Anderson`s gaze turning on the small but cuddly British press contingent?
“The thing that annoyed me was that people seemed to dismiss it casually (“A Passion Play”) – whereas it was a record that took a lot of time to make and needed time to listen to. It didn`t seem that critics were prepared to take that time.
“Personally I think the music on the last album was our best-written, best-conceived – and possibly our most commercial as well – but it maybe wasn`t too easy to get into first time around.

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“I do feel,” continues Anderson against the rattle of coffee cups and the stare of TV lights, “that music ought to require the same effort from the listener as it does from the musician who plays it.
“Obviously that`s a very broad statement. It maybe doesn`t apply to people who play funky music – when they just stand there and get it on, and the audience can reciprocate at the same level. But musicians who play more structured music, or lyrics with more depth…then that requires greater attention.”
Doesn`t it require explanation as well?
“In some cases it may be very good to explain it beforehand. But I rather like the idea of offering the individual the opportunity to read into things what they will…people listen in different states of consciousness and they will, whatever you say, make their own interpretations. I would far rather put the ball firmly in their court and say, right we`ve done our bit – now, here you are.

“People seemed to object to the fact that they actually had to sit down and listen to it more than once, and to qualify the statements of their criticism – they seemed unwilling to do that to a large extent. They would rather dismiss it in a few words, which I do find unfair.
“It certainly doesn`t reward me in any way whatsoever for months of work. It`s not a very constructive criticism. Criticism ought first of all to be beneficial to the artist.
“Unfortunately criticism tends to be aimed at the audience rather than the artist and, even more unfortunately, seems to have an effect on what the public might believe, might buy, or might come to see. Because very often they seem to have no other source to turn to other than what they might read in the papers.”

At which point Terry Ellis cuts in: “If the group felt that the audience hadn`t enjoyed what they did, then I don`t think they`d be upset by any kind of criticism they got from the press. After all, they create for their audience, and if their audience doesn`t like it then that is a genuine cause for concern.”
The decision to stop touring, however, affects the audience, not the press.

Ian Anderson: “Absolutely, but that was just one of the reasons given in the press statement we made at the time – the fact that we were disappointed, hurt, by the criticism we received in the press. People do read and take notice of what is written in the papers, and it`s a little bit worrying to know that you`re going out there on stage having to face some sort of… y`know, it`s just not normal any more.
“Criticism aimed at a specific piece of music is fine if it`s constructive to the artist. I find nothing constructive in what I read, and I can only assume that it would have adversely affected public opinion if we`d have carried on this year doing odd tours in between making the movie.
“But there were other reasons, the biggest of those being that we`ve been working non-stop for five years, making records and playing tours, and for a couple of years now we have wanted the chance to do something different.”

When Terry Ellis called time-out and the assembly splintered into smaller groups, I talked to Anderson in the bar and asked him if he felt Jethro wasn`t too self-contained, too insular a unit to allow any kind of criticism through.
“Insular, yes, but we always have been, and if we`re worth anything at all, I think it`s because of that, because we keep so much to ourselves. None of us really have any social involvements outside the group…”
But doesn`t that cut off possible channels of constructive criticism from outside?
“Well, I think a lot of that criticism comes through in those brief seconds on stage when you pick out a couple of faces in the audience, y`know – or from people who write letters. In the past I`ve had really horrible letters, but I`ve never had any horrible letters about the new album. Not one bad letter.”

Among the critics who gave “A Passion Play” a unanimous roasting, there must however have been some people who genuinely felt that a fine band was misusing its talent. Or taking the wrong direction.
Would you listen to them?
“There`s no such thing as a wrong direction. There is only one direction you can take – because each album is a mirror image of how the band is thinking at the time.”
Accepted. But would he listen to that criticism?
“I would listen and discuss the thing endlessly, y`know. I would discuss it endlessly with Terry or with any of the people in the office – and they have every cause, for commercial reasons, to say, if warranted, `Look we`re a bit worried about this…
“I would listen to any critic who qualified the statements he made. But with `A Passion Play` there was more than usual adverse criticism which wasn`t qualified, which simply exhibited the attitude: `Well, okay, Tull have done their sort of epic “Thick As A Brick” thing. They`ve got that out of their system and we don`t want to go through that again.`

“What those people don`t know is that we made three sides of a double album during the time we were in Montreux, three sides of a double album which was just songs, y`know. But it didn`t have this great amoebic surge, this growth thing that playing an extended piece has.
“I think `Passion Play` was so much better than `Thick As A Brick` in musical terms, lyrically and so on. But if it`s not an accessible album, I still don`t think it warrants the kind of criticism that says, `This is clearly not a good piece of music` (derisory) – or that it waffles, or that the lyrics are obscure or whatever…”

“What pisses me off,” said Anderson later as we discussed wider areas of press criticism over coffee, “is that the next album returns closer to songs, and everybody`s going to think it was a calculated move on our part because of what happened to `Passion Play`.”
C`est la vie, mes amis.

A nice ad from Rod and the guys..

A nice ad from Rod and the guys..

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ian Hunter, Alex Harvey, John Lennon, The Kinks, Bryan Ferry, Leo Sayer, Bob Dylan, ELP, Carlos Santana.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

  1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
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ARTICLE ABOUT Kiss FROM Melody Maker, JANUARY 12, 1974

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

As the regular readers of my blog have noticed, I never print two articles from the same edition of a paper. But I have made an exception this time. Why? Because this article must be one of the first reviews of a Kiss concert in one of the large music papers of the time. Even if it doesn`t say so in the article, this review must be from December 31, 1973. In “Kisstory” there are only two documented shows at the Academy of music, this one and the one they performed January 26, 1974.
Why is this important? Because everywhere you look it says that this is the show where Gene Simmons sets his hair on fire, but the review tells another story. Very strange. You figure it out, Kiss-fans!

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Night of fear!

Chris Charlesworth is your guide for an evening`s entertainment in New York

We start at the Academy of Music on 14th street and Third Avenue, just around the beginning of the Village where four groups are scheduled to appear, all American and all what I would term “new-phase” bands.
The Academy of Music is not unlike our own Rainbow, but shabbier. It had been described to me earlier as a 3,000 seater urinal which was a little cruel but it doesn`t figure in my personal favourite venue list after last night. On the bill are Blue Oyster Cult, Iggy and the Stooges, Teenage Lust and Kiss in reverse order of appearance.

The audience are of the more bizarre category, some dressed as flashily as the bands and others resembling down and outs seeking a warm retreat for a few hours away from the cold outside.
Within two minutes of arriving a sallow looking youth has inquired whether I have any acid to sell.
At the front door there`s a search: could be for a gun.
Above the stage is the word Kiss in large illuminated letters and on it roadies are scurrying around setting up amplifiers.

Next to the bass player`s equipment are seven lit candles as if the forthcoming music had something to do with the Jewish celebration of Hanukah, or Christmas as it`s better known.
But what arrives on stage five minutes later is anything but four nice Jewish lads from the Bronx.
Kiss dress in costumes from the classic American comicbooks; bat uniforms to be precise. The bass player wears bats` wings and all four are caked in make-up: to say they were disciples of the devil would not be an understatement.
The music is both loud and heavy; pretty simple, riff based rock and roll with a very steady funky beat to it. Variation of mood is not their forte, although what they play is effective enough. There are no hitches apart from a mike that fails midway through the set.

The climax to their act is brash and spectacular and not a little borrowed from Arthur Brown. The closing number, “Firehouse,” I think, ends with clouds of dry ice puffing from amps, flashing lights all round them and a display of fire-eating by the bass player.
He even chucks a few loose flames out in the general direction of the audience and one fiery mass appears to land on an unfortunate youth`s head. He`s carried out holding his face in his hands but few seem to notice.

There`s a 20 minute delay before Teenage Lust appears, and once again we are treated to a brash, flashy group. Here the emphasis is not so much on the theatrics or dress but on the Lustettes, three very young looking girls who chant along behind the lead singer.
Dressed in black undies at the outset and changing to black hot pants suit for the remainder of the show, the Lustettes win for themselves a place in my heart. Not a particularly wholesome place, though.
In the tradition of the black singing groups from the Motown school, the Lustettes (who don`t look much older than 16) sing and dance with intricate precision, dwarfing their group for sheer interest.
Their main sing is “Teenage Lust” which opens and closes the set; the rest is a pot pourri of rock and roll.

Pic found on the net - not from the paper.

Pic found on the net – not from the paper.

Next on is Iggy and the Stooges. There are no changes since I last saw them in Los Angeles. At the Academy Iggy is contorting his features and screaming his head off behind a very basic and very noisy group.
To be fair, I should point out that Iggy gets a hero`s welcome, but his particular writhing, his unintelligible vocals and his band`s total lack of any subtlety leave me cold as ice.

But time presses and we must leave the Academy – unfortunately missing Blue Oyster Cult – for the Felt Forum, a smaller hall within the Madison Square Garden complex. Mountain, reformed and ready to blast away, are appearing. We can`t miss that.

The Mountain audience look older and more sophisticated than the 3,000 who showed up at the Academy. And the Felt Forum is a better place to go anyway.
Mountain provide the best music of the evening, demonstrating very forcibly that there`s no substitute for age and experience when it comes to rock and roll.
Maybe in two or three years the Kisses and Teenage Lusts of this world will attain the kind of maturity that Mountain have – and the musicianship that comes from instrumentalists like West and Felix Pappalardi.
It`s not strictly the same Mountain as it used to be. There are no keyboards any more, and David Perry, a black guitarist friend from Nantucket, has been added to bring the total up to four. Corky Laing remains on drums.

Mountain plays a stormer for a couple of hours; very long numbers interspersed with somewhat emotional introductions by Pappalardi who seems very happy to be back on stage with his old chum Leslie.
The highlight is a 45-minute version of “Nantucket Sleighride” which winds its way through a phenomenal bass and drum workout as well as some intricate guitar patterns by West.
For an encore they give us “Mississippi Queen” and that`s it.

Half an hour and two dollars later Stevie Wonder`s in Les Twinkie Zone, a newly opened discotheque on East 48th street.
There`s nothing really remarkable about the party except that reliable informants claim that several of the guests are actually transvestites. That many persons in women`s dresses are actually the male species isn`t hard to see.
Stevie`s fine albums are played over and over again for scores of happy dancers, and after a drink it`s time for home.

Iggy Pop

This number of Melody Maker also contains articles/interviews with these people: Leo Sayer, Robert Partridge about Jobriath, David O`List, Jacksons, Ronnie Scott, Golden Earring, Shep Gordon, Jefferson Airplane, The Soul Report (An assessment of the big names in soul.), Deke Leonard, Bob Dylan, Roar of the crowd (A survey into audience reaction in Britain), Underground Music (About buskers in London), Robin Dransfield.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

  1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
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ARTICLE ABOUT Sweet FROM Melody Maker, January 12, 1974

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

You can`t have a credible blog with artists from the 70s without having an article on Sweet. They had a lot of success, but always seemed a bit frustrated to be known for their bubblegum-hits, mostly written by the duo of Chinn and Chapman.
The album that Brian mentions is going to be called “We`re Revolting” doesn`t exist. Instead it was called “Sweet Fanny Adams” and is an excellent hard-rock album. Highly recommended!

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Sweet Revolution

Jeff Ward talks to the band likely to raise hell in Britain`s concert halls next month.

Phallic symbols, film of a stripper, a “rape” attempt on stage, a song that warns their fans: “If we don`t f— you someone else will!” Unsubtle? Indiscreet? Well right, that`s Sweet.
Their hard `n` horny, sexist-sadist road show embarks on a full-scale British tour at the end of next month – that series of gigs before Christmas was just a warm-up, a tickler, a dummy run. It`s likely to get bigger, and…er…better?
The warm-up tour climaxed at London`s Rainbow where the show was recorded live for the soundtrack of a BBC documentary on the band to be shown on January 28 and February 1.
London witnessed for the first time the possible extent of Sweet`s overt act, which some might say was overblown low camp, but about which others are raving. Which side are you likely to be on?

Sweet devised the whole act themselves, planned the films, effects and costumes, and came up with the theatrics.
As rock `n` roll shows go it`s original in its totality, its mixed media. It`s blatant, but then they`re only underlining the vital sex drive which has always been an essential ingredient of rock music.
What`s behind it?
Singer Brian Connolly said: “Well let me tell you, the Rainbow wasn`t a planned thing on the warm-up gigs, which were to see what reaction was like. But the fans asked why we weren`t playing London.
“They knew we were doing six other places in the country and they wanted to know why a lot of them couldn`t see us in London.”

However, about the act itself, Brian admitted that if the sexual overtones appeared blatant then the band were overdoing things, though the act was “almost one hundred per cent” them, every way.
“I`m there, but I`ve never seen the act. If the sexual thing is coming over to that extreme then we must be overdoing it, but that can only be from the excitement of playing.
“Musically, it`s what we want to do. We`ve put the hits in because people deserve to hear the hits. We`ve put our tracks in because we want them in, it`s what we`re writing and what we`re into.
“Theatrics are what the group`s into. It`s not attempting to shock, we do it because musically it`s what we want to do. In this day and age do you think without the visuals they`d watch? Name me another band that`s got the older audience that doesn`t use visuals. I can`t think of any.
“The band`s getting more into rock; it`s more aggressive, the new stuff, so there`s more to come. As long as we can keep creating basically the music, of course we can keep up with the visuals. We can add more and more.

“It`s also showmanship. What is an actor but a person playing a part with scenery and lighting, creating an atmosphere? We`re creating an aggressive rock sound. The visuals are essential; to be quite honest, if all they want to do is listen they can put an album on.
“Probably they treat some of it as a laugh, which it`s meant to be. The ones we dig, I think it`ll be maybe fifty per cent of audiences, are the ones who appreciate the music. But it`s great to think that everyone`s enjoying themselves.
“I don`t think there`s a danger of us becoming too heavy, musically or visually though, because we`re all from the same sort of background and basically we can`t get away from that old rock`n`roll.
“We see faults in the act we`ve got. But when you compile an act and work it all out you can`t really, until you`ve done it several times, you can`t notice yourself where things are wrong. In fact, Mick`s drum solo is too long and he`s going to shorten it.

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Sweet`s new album, to be titled characteristically, “We`re Revolting,” should be out next month. Six of the nine tracks are completed.
“The title track is one of the three remaining to be done.
“Instead of being `sweet` we`re going to try and put over an album sleeve with the group on the front but a grotesque cartoon on the back, warts and everything. `Revolting` can mean `we`re horrible` or that we`re revolting against `Funny, Funny,` if you like.
“We`ve come a long way from that period and taken a hell of lot of criticism, slagging and downing, musically and every other way. Singlewise the musical standard has remained the same, the only difference in the last three or four singles as opposed to the first five or six being that the Sweet arranged them, they`re our ideas and our expression.
“We`re not puppets like we were on the first five, but we`re still not getting away from Chinn and Chapman`s basic ideas, basic melody. Therefore it`s still going to sound similar.”

The forthcoming tour will take in 25 venues and will be basically the same show, modified slightly in places to make the pace just that bit faster. There`ll be more equipment though, another seven-ton truck on the road. “It`ll be the same act, but with possible two or three different tracks probably from the new album. The lighting will be a lot stronger. We`ve had a lot of trouble getting explosives and things like that.
“We`re promoting the tour too, we didn`t promote the last one, we just booked it from six promoters. I think it`s the same as any band, you probably find most of the name bands promote their own now through promoters. Not only that, I suppose we`ve got four or five people working on that side of the business, we don`t have a manager for Britain, so why not promote it ourselves?

“Believe it or not, we haven`t earned a bean from 1973, not a penny, not from live gigs. I know promoting ourselves will be the remedy for this, because I know how much the promoters earned on the last seven gigs, apart from the Rainbow where we split that with the guy who`s the manager there – and it ran at a loss.”

What was popular at the start of 1974.

What was popular at the start of 1974.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Leo Sayer, Robert Partridge about Jobriath, David O`List, Jacksons, Ronnie Scott, Golden Earring, Shep Gordon, Jefferson Airplane, The Soul Report (An assessment of the big names in soul.), Deke Leonard, Bob Dylan, Roar of the crowd (A survey into audience reaction in Britain), Underground Music (About buskers in London), Robin Dransfield.

The NME this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

  1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to:
  2. The offer should be around or upwards of 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
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